1:08 p.m. on November 28, 2009 (EST)
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Hi all. I see 10000 boot reviews here, and I realize there will be 10000 opinions about what's the "best boot", but I'm hoping people more knowledgable than me can help me narrow it down. Mostly casual SoCal hikes, with very occasional snow/cold. After losing a toenail thanks to my Sports Authority Specials, I was told I "need the best...Scarpa Kailash". I tried them on yesterday, but then tried on the Vasque(?) Wasatch, which just felt more comfortable. It would seem we're talking leather vs goretex here. Of course, when I read the reviews on that here, I see people who swear by them and other's who hate them, so that's not much help. Both are probably "more boot" than I really need. So....which one...or is there another one that would fit my needs better? Thanks!

6:31 p.m. on November 28, 2009 (EST)
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Don't concentrate on brand, concentrate on fit!

Different brands are made with different molds (actually called Lasts) some tend to run narrow, some tent to have more overall volume, etc.

Get the best boot, or top of the line, for the various brands you can afford, with proper fit your first concern. This would be a big step up from what you currently have, then as you learn more about boots and what your own needs are you will be more confident and knowledgeable the next time around.

I have had good luck with Scarpa, you may find they don't fit your feet.

Go somewhere with knowledgeable people that can actually fit you to a pair of boots.

10:24 a.m. on November 29, 2009 (EST)
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Also in the equation: do you really even need boots? Trail shoes or trail runners suit a lot of people's needs -- they're lighter and often more cushy.

A lot of shoe makers have a "mid," which goes over the ankle but is not as high as a traditional boot. These are a bit lighter than full-on boots but still have ankle support. Note that many dedicated trail-running shoes also have ankle support in the form of extra padding below the ankle bone.

One consideration about low-rise hiking shoes: they get a lot more crud in them. Mid- to full-rise boots combined with lightweight long pants keep most of the crud out, from my experience.

10:36 a.m. on November 29, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks. Yeah, the Wasatch seemed to fit better. Trail shoes would probably be better for me 80% of the time, but I do plan on stomping around in some NY/CT woods in Jan, so I want to stay with something that can handle that.

10:57 a.m. on November 29, 2009 (EST)
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Just throwing this out there: You might consider overshoes like NEOS makes if you're only going to be in the snow/cold a couple times a year. That way you could have lightweight footwear for most of your hikes and still have something to keep you warm in the occasional winter outing.

In southern California your main preoccupation is going to be keeping your feet cool, whereas in any true winter environment the preoccupation is the opposite. Any boot warm enough for winter will make your feet super hot in summer -- a recipe for blisters.

The overboot is worth looking at because your shoes and socks form a decent insulating layer while the overboot provides a waterproof layer to keep snow out. Of course for $100-plus for overboots you could go ahead and buy a dedicated winter boot.

On the other side of the coin, most Gore-Tex shoes are so hot anyway that they might be fine on most winter hikes if it's not subzero cold. You just have to be more conscious of the fact that your socks are your only insulation -- as long as you're walking it won't be that much of an issue, but your feet will start to get seriously cold the minute you stop.

Editing to add: you should buy gear for how you plan to use it the most, and make allowances for how you plan to use it occasionally. There are ways to make summer footwear work in winter (vapor-barrier socks, for instance) that are much more practical than hiking all summer in winter-capable toots.

8:52 p.m. on November 29, 2009 (EST)
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5 forum posts evil plan is to tell the wife I need $200 summer boots *after* she forgets about the $200 winter boots.

9:48 p.m. on November 29, 2009 (EST)
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As mentioned, fit is priority number 1! Kailash is a great boot, but if it doesn't fit well then just move on! The Wasatch are good as well, but will be pretty warm through the summer. For summer hikes I'd try to opt for a mixed leather/fabric boot without goretex or other waterproofing, it will be much cooler. This won't do for the snow, where you'll need either goretex or thick treated leather to keep the water out. Wet feet in snow = cold feet. But if it's only for day hikes, good wool socks should be fine if wet.

10:54 p.m. on November 29, 2009 (EST)
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415 forum posts evil plan is to tell the wife I need $200 summer boots *after* she forgets about the $200 winter boots.

Can't argue with that logic.

11:09 p.m. on November 29, 2009 (EST)
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Take my word for it, the wives do not forget, it is just a very complex trap men cannot fully understand. After you are caught, she will demand at least 300.00 for something she wants, explaining that it's fair because womens stuff just costs more.

Been there, done that.

But good luck to ya, and welcome to the site!

7:09 a.m. on November 30, 2009 (EST)
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I would echo the business about fit: find a brand that fits and stick with it. For me, that is Merrell. These don't have the cachet of something more - ummm - Italian, but what can I do? Merrells also seem to me to have the stickiest soles, Vibrams. Most importantly, of course, they fit my feet which, if it's not TMI, are shaped more or less like bent canoe paddles (with Morton's toe).

11:50 p.m. on November 30, 2009 (EST)
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Tom beat me to it-for SoCal and just day hiking, I'd get some good trail runners, then buy a pair of NEOS for the occasional trip to the snow. You wear the trail runners inside the NEOS, so the fit has to be large enough to fit the shoe inside it. If you are in LA, a place in NoHo has them, according to the NEOS website.

10:36 a.m. on December 1, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks to all. I think I'll go try on a couple more...but I'm leaning towards the Wasatch. It's been down in the 30's at night here, and I can see snow up on Palomar. I think I'll get enough use out of them that I'll worry about the SoCal heat in the summer and get a pair of trail rumnners then.

10:11 a.m. on December 3, 2009 (EST)
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Went back and tried a couple more (mostly lighter) boots...but the Wasatch just felt best, so that stays on my Christmas list.

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